January 14, 2071

As I experience this 71st birthday, I become more and more cognizant of the fact that the number of times I will be here to experience the Earth’s full rotation around the sun is numbered. There is a clock ticking that is counting down to my final days. And that’s really what my life has been, a series of countdowns. Every beginning to me was just the start of a new end.

College was a haze of countdowns. On the first day of my freshman year I still recall commenting on how it would all be over in the blink of an eye. Two blinks later, here I am at my final countdown. I came in as a pre-law undergraduate, after the fortune that comes with lawyering for companies that treat people like products, and each day was just another day’s step closer to that goal. Then I met her, and her passions became my passions, and soon I had abandoned the countdown to my six figure salary for the countdown to my first successful fundraiser for my first successful non — profit. No, OUR first successful non-profit.

I traded in my “I” for “We” and married her at the tender age of 23. She was everything I never knew I needed, and in our one bedroom apartment I would sit and count down the minutes until she returned from the job she worked to support us while I solicited the donations that would fund the startup of our 501 c3 nonrpofit. I had heard about young love, but the countdown to the end of me and her was something I never expected. Thank God we never got that dog.

I threw myself into our organization, always counting down the number of people left to help until I had changed the world for the better. Some days it felt like 5, and some days it felt like 5 million. This particular countdown began to draw me into my goals, and subsequently, further away from her. As our organization grew larger and stronger, we grew further apart, and our relationship grew weaker…at least our romantic relationship did. As co-founders and partners, we were stronger than ever. The day we reached our million man mark she handed me divorce papers and moved out. 6 months later we received a Nobel Peace Prize for the work we had done in developing the economy of Sub-Saharan Africa. Our “business” relationship was flourishing and continued to do so till she passed away at 55 and until I retired 6 years ago.

In the years after her death, leading up to my retirement I began to count down the days until my leadership would be replaced by someone whom I found suitable. It got hard at times, not having anyone there to reassure me when I second guessed myself, but those are the circumstances in which a leader is made.

It is only at this final countdown that I have realized that in living a life in anticipation of what is to come, one misses out on what is, and more importantly, what could have been. So beloved, please do not follow my pitiful example. A successful career is not equivalent to a successful life, and had I had more balance in my life, I could have been counted among those few people who have been lucky enough to say that they had it all in life.

Epitaph: “Here lies she who started to die the day she was born.”